Some of you have heard me talking about my 75 Hard experience on the Grit Meets Growth podcast. If you’re not familiar with the program, here is a post I wrote explaining the program requirements and the reason behind my commitment to it.

To recap it quick, 75 Hard includes 75 consecutive days of the following:

  • Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheating.
  • Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.
  • Drink one gallon of water every day.
  • Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
  • Take a progress picture every day.

I just completed Day 21. To say it has lived up to its name would be an understatement. 75 Hard is physically challenging… but the physical side is nothing compared to the mental challenges. Three weeks in, I can tell you that the mental side of the experience is the hardest part and that completing the program will require more mental toughness than muscle. Just like running a marathon, this will be a test of endurance, not a sprint. 

Twenty-one days into 75 Hard, here are five lessons I’ve already learned…

Time Management – One of the biggest challenges in the first 21 days of 75 Hard has been managing my time. Weaving two 45-minute workouts into my day, along with everything else I have on my plate, has required a heightened level of time awareness and planning. Some days that means saying no to things that are not as important to me. Others, it means squeezing my workouts in where there was an otherwise free moment. When my schedule is already full for the day, I get up early and complete my first workout by 5:00 AM. My Takeaway: Time is not the issue. I have the time. I just need to manage it efficiently and prioritize what’s really important.

Control What You Can Control – The requirement that one of each day’s workouts needs to occur outside adds another level of challenge to 75 Hard. As someone who loves the outdoors, I was excited about this part of the program. However, my grit was tested early on when temperatures were barely above zero degrees Fahrenheit in weeks one and three. Add to that the wind and snowfall, and those outdoor workouts forced me to confront my excuses head-on. My Takeaway: You can’t control the environment, but you can control how you show up.

Excuses Are a Dime a Dozen – Speaking of the excuses, I have had to wage war against them over the past two weeks. Every day, I have faced a multitude of reasons to tap out, quit, and cut corners. “It’s too _____ …” Fill in the blank. Too cold, too snowy, too busy, too late. Every time I face a new challenge in 75 Hard, there is a voice on my shoulder telling me all of the reasons I should not be doing this. My Takeaway: The excuses are like hijackers standing outside your house waiting to kidnap your goals. See them for what they are.

Strategy Matters – Along with time management, taking a strategic approach to 75 Hard is essential. Consider drinking the daily gallon of water, for example. My Grit Meets Growth podcast partner Chris Cathers gave me some valuable advice early on. “Try to drink your first half-gallon of water by 9:00 AM, and wrap up your water intake by 4:00 PM.” Chris was right. On the days where I get ahead of my water consumption early in the day, I can have my full gallon of water consumed by dinner time. Unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of days where I didn’t stick to my strategy. What happened? I drank my last water right before bed, and you guessed it… my bladder woke me up three times that night. My Takeaway: When you are working to achieve your goals, developing a strategy and plan is a must. So is sticking to it.

100%, Not 99% – This is the element of the 75 Hard program that seems to receive the most hate. If you miss one element on any given day, you have to start back over at Day 1. There is no grace or room for a cheat day or “almost” completing the day’s tasks, so people refer to 75 Hard as rigid and uncompromising. I was one of those people in the beginning, believing there had to be some wiggle room for this to be healthy. What I have come to realize very quickly is this… If there were room for me to skip a workout or cheat on my nutrition plan, I would likely find reasons to do both. My Takeaway: When allowed to do something 99% of the time, we will likely slip into doing it 80% of the time. 100% is easier and removes room for the slow fade.

As I shared earlier, 75 Hard is mental. Twenty-one days into the experience, it is already testing my endurance and ability to stand up to the excuses. There’s nothing easy about it, and I think that’s why I am enjoying it. It feels good, at the end of each day, to look back on my work and say, “I did this.” 

Lessons learned…

The lessons I’ve already picked up in these first three weeks apply to so many parts of my life – beyond what happens these next 75 days. It’s changing the way I manage time and teaching me to control the controllable and my excuses. It’s refocused me on the relationship between strategy and a plan and why 100% is easier than 99%.

Follow me here as I share some of the future insights and 75 Hard tips I pick up along the way. If you liked this, you’ll also get massive value out of the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. Find it here or on your favorite podcast platform! – John